Six cars torched over two days in Holylands rampage by arsonists
Six cars were set alight in an arson rampage in the Holylands area of Belfast over the weekend.
The owners have no idea why their vehicles were attacked, and while at least two belonged to foreign nationals, police do not believe this was the motive.
The cars were torched on Delhi, Cadogan and Damascus Streets and on Collingwood Avenue on Saturday and Sunday.
One of the victims, a 24-year-old man from France, returned home from Culture Night to find his Renault Clio badly damaged. He said: "I feel disappointed and a bit upset, but not afraid. It could happen anywhere – in Paris, too."
Another victim, a Slovakian care worker, was at home when his car was set alight.
He told how emergency services were on the scene in minutes, but said he had been left with no way of getting to his job.
A police spokesman said he did not believe the attacks were hate crimes. "The victims came from all area of the community," he added.
"The risk to nearby properties, the people inside those properties, and nearby cars was very serious.
"One car on fire could set another car on fire, and possibly houses as well, so we have to take it very seriously.
"At the end of the day, it's a needless act and it's also a waste of resources."
The DUP'S Jimmy Spratt, an MLA for the area, called on the police to step up patrols in response to the attacks.
The politician said: "Wanton vandalism like this cannot be condoned by anyone.
"What we need are more police patrols in the area.
"There's a total lack of police. I've had business people complaining to me in recent days.
"The patrols just aren't out (there) and community policing appears to have gone to the wayside. This type of behaviour cannot be tolerated in any civilised society."
With Freshers' Week now under way, there are fears new arrivals to Belfast may be put off the city by the attacks.
But local residents and students dismissed suggestions the fires were down to sectarian or race tensions.
Emma Bradley (20), a final-year student at Queen's University who lives on Damascus Street, said: "The Holylands is generally safe.
"I have lived here a few years and I don't think that there have been any complaints."